Delta of Dead River sets out to rescue her family from a ruthless dictator rising to power in the Wastes and discovers a secret that will reshape her world in this postapocalyptic Western mashup for fans of Mad Max and Gunslinger Girl.
Delta of Dead River has always been told to hide her back, where a map is branded on her skin to a rumored paradise called the Verdant. In a wasteland plagued by dust squalls, geomagnetic storms, and solar flares, many would kill for it—even if no one can read it. So when raiders sent by a man known as the General attack her village, Delta suspects he is searching for her.
Delta sets out to rescue her family but quickly learns that in the Wastes no one can be trusted—perhaps not even her childhood friend, Asher, who has been missing for nearly a decade. If Delta can trust Asher, she just might decode the map and trade evidence of the Verdant to the General for her family. What Delta doesn’t count on is what waits at the Verdant: a long-forgotten secret that will shake the foundation of her entire world.
Bowman (The Girl and the Witch's Garden) sets fierce challenges for implied white protagonist Delta of Dead River, 17, as she struggles across the postapocalyptic desert Wastes, searching for her pack and for the mythical Verdant, a "green paradise" to which Delta has an unreadable map branded on her back. Venturing from her pack's settlement at Dead River with her pregnant elder sister, Indie, Delta seeks medical attention from a healer. When Indie doesn't survive childbirth, grieving Delta returns home with Baby, only to find that her entire pack has been killed or kidnapped. She suspects the kidnappers were looking for her because of the map scarred into her skin when she was five. With few supplies and Baby in tow, Delta heads through the hot, barren land, hoping to reach the sanctuary of Powder Town, until she, too, is captured by The General's minions including Asher, a boy who was once part of her pack and who also bears a secret map brand. Bowman skillfully portrays the privation and grief that Delta bears, alongside her determination to overcome each obstacle. Absorbing world-building propels this fast-paced adventure, which has crossover appeal and series potential. Ages 12 up. \n